Germany plans to send its popular Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine to bolster the country’s war effort, Der Spiegel reported Tuesday evening, citing anonymous sources. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has decided to hand over the tanks after “months of debate,” according to an exclusive report by the German press.
The German parliament is set to debate the controversial issue Wednesday morning. Deciding to send them would be a landmark moment for the West to support Kyiv. The West has been under intense pressure in Berlin for several days by some of its NATO partners.
CNN did not respond to a request for comment from the German government on Tuesday night.
The report comes after U.S. officials revealed on Tuesday that the Biden administration is finalizing plans to send U.S.-made tanks to Ukraine. Germany told the US last week that it would not send Leopard tanks unless the US agreed to send her own M1 Abrams tanks.
The deployment of Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine will provide the Kyiv Army with a modern and powerful military vehicle ahead of a potential Russian spring offensive. It will also hurt the Kremlin, which has a growing campaign to equip the Ukrainian army with high-tech combat systems.
Germany is resisting growing Western pressure to ship some tanks to Ukraine, and new German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius has demanded more time, a move that has pros and cons for Berlin. He argued that there were two sides.
Warsaw raised its stakes Tuesday when it formally asked for permission to send its own leopard.
Several European countries also own leopards, and Poland had led efforts to re-export leopards to Ukraine, even without Germany participating. However, the decision of Scholz and Pistorius was considered very important as tanks were made in Germany and Germany usually controlled their exports and re-exports.
Polish officials told CNN on Tuesday that, to their knowledge, Berlin has yet to formally notify Warsaw of its decision to allow the leopards to be sent to Ukraine.
The German military has 320 Leopard tanks, but has not disclosed how many are combat-ready, a defense ministry spokesperson previously told CNN.
Several high-tech combat systems have been pledged to Ukraine since the beginning of the year, amid a new wave of Western military aid. The US last week finalized a huge military aid package to provide Ukraine with weapons totaling about $2.5 billion, including Stryker combat vehicles for the first time, while Britain and many of her EU countries agreed to send tanks. .
Pistorius, who took office as German Defense Minister on Thursday, said his first day in office was dominated by efforts by key allies to join the trend by shipping Leopards to Ukraine. I tried to secure a guarantee that it would send the
But Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused Germany of “wasting time” by failing to come to a decision, and after the Berlin summit ended last Friday without an agreement to send the leopards, it took a short break. The dissatisfaction of the leaders of the department was exposed.
The Leopard 2 tank will be a deadly combat vehicle on the Ukrainian battlefield.
Each tank contains a 120 mm smoothbore gun and a 7.62 mm machine gun. It can reach speeds of 70 km/h (44 mph) and 50 km/h off-road, making maneuverability one of its key features. It also has all-around protection from threats such as improvised explosive devices, mines, and anti-tank fire, according to German manufacturer Klaus-Maffei Wegmann.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly urged countries to stop fighting over whether to send tanks.
“We have been talking hundreds of times about arms shortages.
Mr Zelensky openly criticized Germany’s slowdown, adding: When people say – if someone does, I’ll give you a tank.
Meanwhile, Russia was trying to threaten Germany during the deliberations. Asked at a regular press conference about Moscow’s reaction if Berlin approved the dispatch of tanks, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said relations between the two countries were “already at a fairly low point”, saying that the current “There has been no substantive dialogue with Germany or the rest of the EU,” he added. and NATO countries. ”
“Of course, such a handover does not bode well for the future of the relationship. They will leave an imminent mark,” Peskov said.
Previous military aid, such as the US HIMARS rocket system, has been vital in helping Ukraine launch a series of successful counterattacks in recent months.